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Facing the Fire

Key References: Daniel 3; Prophets and Kings, chap. 41, pp. 503-513; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 6, pp. 16-19; 33-37; 38-43; Our Beliefs nos. 10, 22, 21

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“Then Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God’ ” (Daniel 3:28).

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We praise God, trusting that He is with us in every situation.

Have you ever felt pressured into doing something that you did not want to do? Then you will understand how Daniel’s three friends felt when the king and all the city bowed down to a golden image and they refused.

Daniel caught King Nebuchadnezzar’s attention soon after he arrived in Babylon. Within a year the king had a dream about a strange image, and he desperately wanted someone to interpret it for him. Daniel asked God for help, and was able to explain to Nebuchadnezzar the image, the prophecy it represented, and the kingdoms that would follow Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian Empire. Daniel was rewarded with a high position. He asked that his three friends, now known by their Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, be given important government jobs.

Nebuchadnezzar recognized the power of Daniel’s God after the dream was interpreted. But as time went on he became unwilling to accept the prophecy that his kingdom would not last forever. All he could remember from Daniel’s interpretation were the words “You are the head of gold.” He decided to create an image like the one he had seen in his dream, but make it of solid gold to represent an eternal, indestructible kingdom.

The Babylonians were enthusiastic idol worshippers. They had created splendid statues of their various gods. But never had they seen an image like this one. As tall as a nine-story building and made of solid gold, the statue on the plain outside of the city was a sight to behold. The dedication ceremony for the image was meant to be an act of worship and a pledge of allegiance to Babylon. All the government officials were expected to attend.

No doubt Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew what was coming. The construction of the image must have taken quite some time. They were important government officials. They knew they would be expected to attend the dedication ceremony and worship the statue. They must have had plenty of time to think about the consequences of not obeying an order from the king.

They went to the ceremony as commanded, but when the order came to bow down and worship the statue at the sound of the music, they stood tall and firm. They would bow down and worship only the God of heaven.

The rapid rise of these captives to high positions had created jealousy in more than a few of the Babylonians. They now ran to Nebuchadnezzar with the news that three of the Jews refused to serve his gods or worship his image. The king was furious. He called for the three, offered them another chance, and threatened them with the fiery furnace if they disobeyed again.

If they were afraid, their words didn’t show it. “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand” (Daniel 3:16, 17).

These young men were confident in what their God could do for them. But that was not the reason they refused to worship an idol. They went on: “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (verse 18).

Daniel and these three friends had already shown their allegiance to God by refusing to eat the king’s food. They did not allow circumstances to dictate their behavior. They had vowed to worship God. They knew that God could save them. But whether or not He would did not matter.

So into the flames they went, and God did deliver them. However, many people have not been delivered from their own personal fiery furnaces.

Do we worship God because of what He can do for us? No. We worship God because of what He has already done for us. Our worship is in response to His saving grace, and nothing can change that. No circumstances on earth can shake our devotion to our Savior, and His peaceful presence with us.